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Could I Survive A Fall From An Airplane?

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Tim O'Shea Profile
Tim O'Shea answered
Although it sounds amazing given that terminal velocity is approximately 120mph, yes it is possible to survive as this list of 35+ fall survivers shows.  In fact the new Chief Scout, Bear Grylls survived a freefall parachuting accident in Kenya. Here are some ideas how to survive:

Rule 1 - Work Out How High You Are - FAST!
In the first split second guess how high you are, this makes a lot of difference to your desired actions.

Less than 300m
You've got about 6 seconds to impact, so there is no time to do anything apart from get yourself falling feet first. Prepare for impact and try and start a parachute style body roll to absorb the speed on hitting the ground.

More than 300m
You are probably going to die, but increase your chances of survival by using the techniques outlined in rules 2 to 6.

Rule 2 - The Golden Rule - Land On Snow, Or Something Softening
Try and fall towards something that will help break the fall. The preferred choice deep snow on a steep mountain slope aware from trees and cliffs.

Ray Noury (watch the video at the end of this answer), the WWWII vet, fell 15,000 Feet without a parachute and lived.  He grabbed his crucifix before landing and sliding for half a mile down a snow slope! Similarly James Boole fell 6000ft whilst filming a stunt and opened his parachute seconds before impact with a snowy slope in the mountains.

So aim to land on a snow slope without trees and cliffs and roll/slide as far you can.

Other people have survived by falling through power lines or trees to slow their fall (like Nicholas Alkemade in WWWII), cross your legs before impacting trees like parachutists do. Some have landed on roofs which have collapsed and taken some of the impact.

Alan Magee fell from a B17 in WWWII falling four miles before crashing through the glass roof of the St. Nazaire railroad station. Lucky to live but then unlucky to be made a prisoner of war.

Water is as hard and concrete when hit at terminal velocity so it doesn't generally help (if it did more World War II aviators would have survived).  As such it is a last choice after trees, roof tops and snow. However people have survived falling into mud or swampy areas. Also water that is turbulent is softer and gives a better chance (bottom of waterfalls & dams, Robert Langdon style).

Rule 3 - Slow Your Fall
Try and get in a position that will slow your fall, the arch position skydivers use is perfect for the falling stage. If you have any thing left of a parachute or loose hanging clothing try and use it.

Rule 4 - Land Feet First
Landing on the head, or even side isn't going to work. Try and land on your feet and execute a roll or slide to take some of the energy out the the impact.

Michael Cox has a lucky escape, after landing feet first in sand and laying out cold for 45 minutes, he walked back to barracks where his company commander ordered him to do 50 push-ups for arriving late!

Rule 5 - Don't Give Up!
Much depends on your attitude according to David Carkeet :

"Much will depend on your attitude. Don't let negative thinking ruin your descent. If you find yourself dwelling morbidly on your discouraging starting point of seven miles up, think of this: Thirty feet is the cutoff for fatality in a fall. That is, most who fall from thirty feet or higher die. Thirty feet! It's nothing! Pity the poor sod who falls from such a "height." What kind of planning time does he have?"

Can bad eye slight help?
Yes! If you wear glasses try and keep them firmly on your face, otherwise seeing where you are going is going to be near impossible with 120 mph wind in your face!

So it is possible to survive a fall from an aircraft, but if you are unlucky enough to be falling your probably not going to be lucky enough to survive.

More Fall Survivors Information:

Ray Noury's Amazing WWII Story


James Boole's 6000ft Fall Into Snow


Freefallers  - in depth information about surviving aircraft falls
Wikipedia: Surviving Falls


Adrian Masters Profile
Adrian Masters answered
Yes. There is a book titled "Great Escapes of WWII". In the book, which is all true stories, there is a story of a pilot who was shot down. He bailed out over the Alps. His parachute failed to open. He fell 1200 feet, but because of the snow and and angle of the Alps the pilot survived with only a broken arm or leg. I forgot which.
Alianna Gona Profile
Alianna Gona answered
Probbaly not... Unless you are exteremely prepared like a pro sky diver...
lucek chuck Profile
lucek chuck answered
People have survived a fall from 30,000 feet. Not many and most are wreckage riders not jumpers. I've never hear of anyone walking away however.
Noor-ul-Elmah Hasan Profile
You can, if God secures you. It also depends upon from which height you are falling but not necessary as many people die by falling from their roof.
Arthur Wright Profile
Arthur Wright answered
Sure you can survive the fall, it's the landing that will kill you, unless you have a mass heart attack on the way down in anticipation of the landing which is a very good possibility.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Probably you will die or will stick to your bed forever, well are you thinking about suicide then select an cost effective method e.g rat killer pills ;p

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